Happy birthday to me!
Lots of people don’t enjoy birthdays. They don’t tell people their birthday is coming up. They hide when others sing “Happy Birthday.” They lie about their age.
I am not one of those people. It’s my birthday, and I am proudly 37 years old.
I love my birthday. I love that it falls in the middle of May, smack dab in the middle of spring. I love that I get to hear from people from all parts of my life, those I talk to all the time, and those who think of me only because Facebook tells them to (I’ll take it). I love that my work team celebrates birthdays with donuts and that my kid now knows all the words to “Happy Birfday.”
I have loved my birthday forever, but oh so much more in the last seven years.
As Allison Slater Tate said last year in her fabulous piece, “40 Candles”: aging is a privilege. Indeed.
I’m rounding the corner of my 30s, heading solidly into the late 30s bracket and happily looking toward 40. (Just WAIT for my excitement at turning 40. Party plans are already underway.) And from this vantage point, here’s what 37 looks like:
It’s gratitude that I can pay to have my hairdresser cover up my increasing amounts of white – not just gray, but WHITE – hair.
It’s crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles that used to show up only when I frowned but are there permanently, now (or maybe I just frown a lot more) and happily earned laugh lines. And it’s a bathroom shelf that now holds skin care products like extra-moisturizing night face cream and powder that isn’t supposed to settle into fine lines.
It’s water, so much water, to stay hydrated for the too many times a day that I’m hooked up to the pump, and coffee, so much coffee, that’s made necessary by babies who hate sleep. And protein shakes because women in their late 30s apparently can’t live on vending machine candy alone (no matter how hard I try). And red wine and white wine and summery beers and tequila because, hell yes, I’m not pregnant this summer.
It’s all of a sudden being an adult who has to deal with life insurance and replacement siding and asking friends for recommendations of pest control companies.
It’s knowing that two babies in three years and the resulting lack of exercise means I should really get back on the treadmill…and then watching a marathon of Fixer Upper instead.
It’s buying a one-piece bathing suit that’s appropriate for chasing toddlers at the splash park and nursing a baby in the corner. And it’s keeping the bikini that’s in the bottom drawer, because those days aren’t over.
It’s reading Tom Sietsema’s dining guides about the hot new restaurants and then going back to the same old favorite family-friendly spots that serve up crayons and coloring books as their amuse bouches.
It’s knowing only some of the names on the Red Sox 25-man roster and having a vague sense of where they’re playing and whether they’ve won or lost recently but no idea who their third-base coach is. It’s paying for the DirecTV baseball package but spending more time washing bottles than watching baseball.
It’s reading about the federal budget and state government by day and Little Blue Truck and toddler behavior books by night. And it’s being honest that it’s taking forever to read the toddler behavior books because bottles and pumping and Fixer Upper.
It’s realizing that I graduated from college 15 years ago this month. And that I have lived in this city – where I was sure I’d be for only a year – 15 years ago next month.
It’s looking at the guy with whom I’ve now spent FOURTEEN birthdays and yet thinking that neither of us has aged a day.
It’s having lots of different groups of friends from so many different periods of my life. And having not nearly the time they deserve to spend with them, and knowing that they get it.
It’s dreaming of exotic vacations enough to fill 10 bucket lists and yet still pointing the car north for a week in Boston because spending time with family and friends we’ve known so long that they are family is on the list, too.
It’s spending so many days in the company of small people and loving seeing the world through their eyes and talking to my grandparents and being glad to see it through theirs, too.
It’s knowing that this age can bring with it illness and strife and sadness but choosing today not to focus on that.
It’s being grateful that this body, with its white hair and increasingly not-so-fine lines and distinct lack of muscle tone, has gotten me through 37 years, and cancer and babies and so, so many stories.
And it’s ready for more to come.
(Also, some wine. Because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!)